When Chris Schimel said yes to God’s call to the ministry of saving souls, he never thought it would also mean saying yes to saving people’s lives from murder. When a late Saturday night phone call from one of his parishioners reveals a shocking announcement about the person’s family, Pastor Chris is thrust into a nine-daylong heart-stopping race to save their lives.
Each day of the ordeal unfolds new and frightening information about an ex-con who is harassing this family; and in spite of law enforcement’s involvement, the ordeal continues to escalate. Each day the anxiety level rises until a last minute life and death decision is made that seems to end the threat…and the family is saved. But then…
Murder in the Church is a gripping, minute by minute account of a church family in a desperate crisis; and their pastor in a desperate fight to rescue them. Chris Schimel is an insightful and caring pastor and a seasoned author. His picturesque and real life approach combined with his remarkable storytelling ability; will leave you in both wonder and shock as you embark on his amazing, unbelievable, heart-pounding, and yet beautiful adventure called Murder in the Church. Based on Actual Events
You will wonder…
• Could an event such as this really happen?
• Could God make these requirements of a pastor?
• Could failure’s consequences be so severe?
• Could, or would, God actually do what it seems He did in this story?
• After such tragedy, could God’s beauty emerge so glorious?
• And more…
I should have been prepared for the tension in the crisis to be unabated, but I wasn’t. That let me know the stress of the issue at hand, even for me, was significant as well. It would have been a pleasant relief to my ears to hear Sarah say a miracle took place overnight, such as: Raymond came home for good, or Daniel left for greener pastures. The grief I felt that no miracles had materialized overnight was an unwelcome shock back into reality for me. “Well,” I said, hoping my disappointment was not detectable in my voice, “what did Raymond say?” “It wasn’t really what he said as much as it was what he didn’t say,” she answered as if she were still analyzing his words to her that morning. She continued, “I just decided I was going to quit playing around and not worry about whether Daniel was listening. I decided if Raymond called, I would just ask him straight out. So I did.” “And what happened?” I insisted, showing my impatience. “Well,” said Sarah, “I just asked him, ‘Do you want to stay with Daniel or not?’ And Raymond responded in a tone that let me know without a doubt that he was definitely trying to hide something from me or Daniel.” “What did he say?” I asked, revealing my rapidly rising concern. She said, “He responded, ‘Well…not exactly. But that’s just the way it has to be right now.’” Sarah went on, “Then I asked him, ‘Is Daniel threatening to hurt you, Raymond?’ But Daniel must have been looking at him or getting his sleazy ear up next to the phone to hear, because Raymond just changed the subject. He answered me with something random like, ‘Isn’t it a nice day?’ or something like that. Then he said, ‘Well, Daniel and I have to go to work. If I need something, I’ll call you.’” Then Sarah said, “That Daniel makes me so mad. He must have Raymond too scared to say anything. But I don’t know what to do. What do you think?” she asked me in a desperate voice. “How do you feel about it? What do you think about what Raymond said on the answer machine on Monday?” Now, I remembered Sarah referring to that message, but she only said it concerned her. I didn’t remember her telling me Raymond’s precise words, and she hadn’t referred to it again until that moment. I said, “Sarah, I remember you telling me about that, but I don’t recall whether or not you told me exactly what Raymond said. Tell me again. What did Raymond actually say?” Sarah said, “Would you like to hear it? I didn’t erase it off of the answer machine, so I still have it.” Surprised, I asked her, “You still have it?” Then I said emphatically, “Yes, by all means play it for me.” So Sarah played the whole message back to me over the phone. It was a little fuzzy, but easy enough to understand; and I could tell without question it was Raymond’s voice. The first part of the message was a hurried explanation about Daniel controlling Raymond’s phone and monitoring his calls. But his last words before he hung up were chilling. Confirming all of our suspicions, Raymond said with terror in his voice, “I just don’t know what to do. He’s threatening me and my family.” Those words pushed me over the edge. The urgency factor in my heart concerning the matter instantly rose beyond my ability to hold back my emotions. I said with what must have seemed like anger at her, “Sarah, why didn’t you let me hear that message before this? That is an extremely significant statement.” I was angry, but not at Sarah. I was angry at the devil, at Daniel, at the police department, and maybe at myself for not getting fired up sooner. Then Sarah said, “There’s something else I didn’t tell you. Yesterday I got a call from Raymond. When I answered, I could hear Raymond and Daniel talking in the background. It seemed like he had pressed the call button, but I couldn’t tell if he had done it by accident or on purpose, so I just listened. I listened for a long time. They were arguing about the business for much of the time, and two times during their discussion, Daniel shouted at Raymond, ‘If you don’t do what I tell you, I’ll bash your head in.’ But when he said it, he wasn’t saying it like it was just something to say. He screamed it at Raymond like he was out of control. It really scared me.” I broke in, “Sarah, that was what I needed to hear. I am going to call the police department, but this time I am going to make sure they start taking us seriously. I hung up with Sarah and wasted no time calling the police. A receptionist answered the phone. Before she had a chance to say any more than her greeting, I began to unload all of the stress that had built up inside me over the last five days. “Ma’am,” I said, “My name is Chris Schimel. I am the pastor of a church here in town, and I have an extremely dangerous situation I am dealing with concerning a family in our church. We are in desperate need of help from the police department, and we can’t seem to get them to take any interest. We called on Monday and talked to an officer in training, but he never returned our call.” I gave her no room to insert a response. I just went on with my volume increasing as I went. “We talked to someone else on Tuesday,” I said, “and we told him we felt a person in our church was being intimidated and held against his will. He said the police couldn’t do anything to help unless we get permission from that person, and we can’t do that, because he is being kept from us. Do you understand what I am telling you?”
Chris Schimel has a master of divinity degree and has been a pastor for more than thirty-five years in churches from California to New York. He is the founder of Touch One Ministries and currently pastors a church. He and his wife, Shirley, have two grown sons, Jeff and Joel.